Monday, November 11, 2013

Interview With Author Tim Teeman

Meet the author of In Bed with Gore Vidal

What don't we know about Gore that will surprise us? Where to begin? It's a really dense mixture of the gossipy-revelation-y type stuff and also the moving, revealing things about his life. Specifically, you'll find out about the Hollywood stars he had sex with, and what he did with them (should your curiosity extend that far); you'll find out for the first time about the last ten years of his life; you'll find out the quite shocking way he left his affairs after his death. You'll find out about his true relationship with his partner of 53 years, the hustlers they enjoyed, and whether he was really in love with a boy he met at prep school. And so much more: as well as the juicy stuff, I trace how all of that intersected with Gore the writer and public figure, his activism, and his sometimes surprising non-activism like around HIV and AIDS. 

Why are so many people still enamored with Gore?  Gore was a major public figure, saying the unsayable, confronting what he felt was wrong or lacking in the culture in his own brilliantly sharp, intellectually intimidating way. He was a star. Even if you disagreed with him, you listened to him. In fact you listened to him harder. He was a kind of cultural-political lightning conductor. And he had the gravitas and stage chops that outshines any number of so-called "pundits" today.

How did you go about researching your book? I had six months to research and write it. I took no time off work. So I read what was out there, and then started interviewing people, and honestly I'm not sure how I interviewed so many people. But once you shook the tree of contacts, more and more people followed. I wanted the book to be fresh, new, moving the Gore story forward. I wanted to have new "news" in it if possible, rather than just to simply cover old ground.

How did you manage to find out new things that other biographers of Gore failed to uncover or share? Simply, by digging. I was probably aided, ironically, by Gore being dead - I'm not sure his family and close friends would have co-operated or spoken so freely about him had he been alive. I interview people for a living, so it was a lot of that. And there was a lot of talking about very personal and sensitive things - sometimes that can be easy, sometimes not. It depends on the interviewee. I also tracked down the unpublished first biography of Gore. I sought interviews with those closest to him. There is a lot of fresh material in the book, I hope, and interviews with people like Claire Bloom and Susan Sarandon. The staff at the Houghton Library at Harvard, where Gore's archive was, were incredibly helpful. Burr Steers, Gore's nephew, was also incredibly generous and open, as was Matt Tyrnauer, Vidal's close friend.

What do you enjoy most about the writing process? The jokey answer to that is: the end. The true answer was finding a shape for the book as I wrote, making sure each chapter took the reader somewhere new and surprising. The most pleasurable part of writing, truly, was sitting on a plane or train, writing chapters, transcribing interviews, and thinking, "Ah, that could go there, and if it did, the book could assume 'this' shape." The book began to make its own sense. I didn't want it to be chronological, but thematic and to still take the reader through his life.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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